Mark E.W. Lewis
I became a self-employed Muralist and Decorative Artist at the age of 19 after leaving school without qualifications and unsuccessfully applying for a place at Portsmouth Art College.
By the age of 22, I was juggling 4 small businesses and in 1990 I became the first person in the world to paint bespoke satellite dishes, receiving international media attention in the process. In 1992, I presented HRH Prince Charles with a bespoke satellite dish for his High grove home during an exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham after being awarded a grant by the Princes Youth Business Trust
In the following years, I continued working as a muralist and artist and my work took me to many places in the UK and abroad. My murals are particularly well known on the south of England and I have also painted in France, Egypt, Thailand, India and Brazil. My murals have been commissioned by organisations, councils, and businesses including hotels and private individuals. One landmark mural I initiated in 1997 is the Strand city map mural in Southsea (best landscape award Portsmouth Society 1998) which is the only never-ending public art mural in the UK and with a 99-year lease, I hope it will become the most detailed too.
In the year 2000, I realised a childhood dream when I secured a derelict gatekeepers cottage that had stood for 140 years in Victoria Park in the city centre of Portsmouth.
I luckily rescued the building from demolition by raising £70,000 capital funding for the project 'Art in the Park' and subsequently we won the best restoration award from the Portsmouth Society in 2003.
The project was my heart and soul, from raising the funding, project managing and enlisting interested volunteers. We run as a Community Interest Company Co-Op as we believe everyone is entitled to learn new skills for life and be offered the opportunity to reach their full potential.
The centre undertook community murals, free workshops and courses in painting, graphic design, music, film making, drama, website design and radio production. There was also a café and gallery space for local artists to exhibit their work and licenced bar for evening events including film, live performance, comedy and music. Additionally, we run free events in the park, attracting up to 5,000 people. Over 17 years we reached over 70,000 people and created over £4 million for our city including micro-businesses, community development projects whilst clocking up over 120,000 volunteer hours. This venture came to a sudden end in 2017 after much community campaigning yet it has been offered back by the council which may be taken up in the next year or so?
Over the last 32 years of being a muralist and painting over 300 murals, I have won numerous awards including regional inspirational leader (Social Entrepreneur) and feature regularly in the local media for my work with the community in the Portsmouth area with 16 Lord Mayors unveiling our art projects or events. Integrity is very important to me whilst knowing the importance of self-motivation, community adhesion, and enthusiasm which is the key to making positive things happen with little resources whilst achieving real change in our communities.
Mark E.W. Lewis
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